You know what I always say. Don’t read the Comments. And don’t feed the trolls.
Well, I broke my own rules. My bad.
‘LGBTI+ people have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation than the general population because of the discrimination and hostility they face’
There’s plenty of groups presently and in history have faced far more real, tangible oppression then some parts of the LGBTI+ group in western countries without a comparable suicide rate.
‘Other people being mean/ not accepting’ doesn’t cut it as an explanation unless you have some evidence to show why.
The Coalition for Marriage and the LGBTI community have something in common. A passionate commitment to caring for our children and young people. There are unique factors that make discrimination worse for LGBTI children and young people.
Imagine you’re a Jewish kid. Nazis are stalking the streets, openly talking about attacking your community. Kids in your school call you ‘kike’ and ‘yid’.
You go home to your Mamma and Pappa. They comfort you as you cry in their arms. They call the principal and demand action.
The community rallies round, organises groups of parents to walk you to and from school. The rabbi preaches against the hate. The press media are suitably appalled.
Imagine you’re an Aboriginal kid. What does your family do when you tell them you’ve been picked on for who you are?
Imagine you’re a Muslim kid. How does your family, your religion, your community, deal with your hurts when racism strikes?
In every case, you turn to your parents and your extended family and they love and support you. Your community stands behind you: concentric circles of love and help and support, from family, to school, to religion, to community.
Now let’s rewind
Imagine an LGBTI young person coming out to their family. A lesbian Jewish girl. A gay Asian boy. A trans Aboriginal person. A bisexual Muslim.
All too often, your family will try to change you (which is impossible); load you with guilt (Where did I fail?/I’ll never have grandchildren!); they may even throw you out of the family home and cut off all contact.
And then they tell you, “It’s only because we love you.”
Your church or synagogue or mosque will call you a sinner, unclean, possessed, label you paedophile, abuser; they might even shame your family, order your parents to disown you.
Your community may shun you, claiming you dishonour them; if you’re in work, your employer may find ways to sideline or dismiss you.
In the press, on TV, online, you see the allegedly virtuous heads of major religions threatening to fire people like you if you ever publicly express your love for your significant other. It’s insinuated that people like you are promiscuous paedophiles who only want to be parents for easy access to children to abuse.
These are very heavy burdens to bear alone. But that’s how it almost always used to be for LGBTI kids. And despite progress, for too many, during their formative and vulnerable years, it still is.
When racism runs rampant, the black child is comforted, supported, defended; the gay child may be thrown onto the streets alone.
A Jewish family will tell their child the rantings of the Nazis are lies; a lesbian child may find family, friends and community believing and repeating the lies told about LGBTI.’
When I came out, my mother blamed herself; my father agreed with her, and demanded I see a doctor, until I was ‘cured’.
“I used to be a nobody,” he said, “I’ve worked hard all my life, and now I’m a small somebody. I’ll not have you and your funny friends jeopardising that!”’
We didn’t speak again for many, many years.
‘Other people being mean/not accepting’ does cut it.
Other persecuted young people don’t have to face the hate alone. We do. Some of us lived in fear for many years. And that does things to a person.
We learn early that we cannot take the love and support and care of our families, churches, communities for granted, as others can. As we ought to be able to. This, above all else, is what must change, and why the equal respect, honour and celebration afforded our relationships by marriage – and nothing less – is vital.
As a 67 year old gay man, I have lived through the time when the shadow of illegality began to lift (in 1967 England), to the fragile dawn of this new age of acceptance. But I have seen how fast the winds can change, acceptance shut down, embrace turn to rejection. Progress is neither smooth nor linear.
We have only just begun to enter the mainstream of life. Acceptance is wide, but not yet deep. The fight goes on. I used to dream it would be over in my lifetime. Alas, I fear it will not.